THE FOX AND THE WOLF 51
mind of the wolf, the very fox he had been thinking of was galloping along the other road.
'The whole of this day I have listened to those village hens clucking till I could bear it no longer,' murmured she as she bounded along, hardly seeming to touch the ground. 'When you are fond of fowls and eggs it is the sweetest of all music. As sure as there is a sun in heaven I will have some of them this night, for I have grown so thin that my very bones rattle, and my poor babies are crying for food.' And as she spoke she reached a little plot of grass, where the two roads joined, and flung herself under a tree to take a little rest, and to settle her plans. At this moment the wolf came up.
At the sight of the fox lying within his grasp his mouth began to water, but his joy was somewhat checked when he noticed how thin she was. The fox's quick ears heard the sound of his paws, though they were as soft as velvet, and turning her head she said politely:
'Is that you, neighbour? What a strange place to meet in! I hope you are quite well?'
'Quite well as regards my health,' answered the wolf, whose eye glistened greedily, 'at least, as well as one can be when one is very hungry. But what is the matter with you? A fortnight ago you were as plump as heart could wish!'
'I have been ill — very ill,' replied the fox, 'and what you say is quite true. A worm is fat in comparison with me.'
'He is. Still, you are good enough for me; for "to the hungry no bread is hard."'
'Oh, you are always joking! I'm sure you are not half as hungry as I!'
'That we shall soon see,' cried the wolf, opening his huge mouth and crouching for a spring.
'What are you doing?' exclaimed the fox, stepping backwards.